Residents on Anegada have received a fire truck to service the island after living without one for more than three years.
The truck is one of two firefighting vehicles donated by the United Kingdom and was transported to the sister island late last month. The other vehicle remained on Tortola.
The truck is a relatively small, all-purpose emergency response vehicle equipped with a water tank, hoses, a small amount of rescue equipment, signs, fire extinguishers, a generator, and other equipment necessary for rescue operations.
Chief Fire Officer Zebalon McLean told BVI News that the island could have been better served with a more-equipped truck but he is grateful for the donation.
“Ideally it would have been good to have a much larger appliance with far more firefighting and rescue capabilities on Anegada because Anegada has some very important structures that are touristic as well as a lot of dwelling houses,” he said.
“It is not just two or three people who live in Anegada. It’s over 200 people and it is our responsibility to serve the territory. Many people tend to forget that the sister islands comprise the territory and not just Tortola, but it gives them at least a vehicle to work with,” he said.
How fires were fought on Anegada before
The fire chief said prior to Anegada receiving the truck, the Water and Sewerage Department and the Airport Fire Fighting Services had to pool resources whenever there was a fire on the island.
He said the Water and Sewerage department would truck water while the Airports Authority used equipment intended for aircraft use to help extinguish a fire.
“It was a tremendous effort on the part of the BVI Airports Authority, the Water and Sewerage Department and the people of Anegada,” McLean stated.
“For the lack of equipment, we have not been living up to our responsibilities,” said McLean, adding that there were two fire officers stationed at the Anegada station.
Stations still closed in East and West End
In the meantime, the West End and East End Fire Stations on Tortola remain closed.
“We continue to struggle because of the lack of equipment,” McLean said.
“We don’t have enough appliances to serve the territory and we would like to have these appliances so we can have all the fire stations open. The reason why the fire stations are closed at East End and West End was not because we couldn’t open them, but because we didn’t have an available truck to put there.”
He said having these two stations operational would assist in the Fire and Rescue Department’s response time. McLean noted that there was no sense assigning officers to these stations if they were not equipped.
A total of 58 officers currently serve the territory.
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